Gender & Ritual

I started many mornings at Camp Ramah in Northern California by inviting campers to try on tefillin, and I tried to make space for campers to think about their own connection to the ritual.

It didn’t work. Or, at least, not yet—almost no new staff members or campers tried on tefillin last summer. [These are the small leather boxes and strips that a religiously observant Jew—usually a man—is to wind around the arm and head for weekday morning prayers.] Even in my conversations with camp staff members, many of them just laughed when I asked them if they would be interested in trying on tefillin. These open, thoughtful conversations are just the first step—they won’t get my community all the way to full ritual egalitarianism. But having them now, even years overdue, might mean that the next generation of staff members won’t be asking the same questions that I am.

ELANA REBITZER, “When I Tried to Get Girls to Wear Tefillin,” The Lilith Blog.